Monday, 30 September 2013

Hashtag gestural meme

OK, this is a current internet meme. My excuse is that it's a meta meme. Or at least it's about hashtags, twitter and social media. The blurb reads:

Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake show you what a Twitter conversation sounds like in real life.

The video features a "gestural meme" that I hadn't seen before - the gesture for hashtags. Probably like a few other people who have watched this video, I might be using that one myself in the future.

The video has news coverage - here's CNET (Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon mock #hashtagmania) and TheVerge (Watch this: Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon show us what hashtag abuse really sounds like).

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The divisive influence of cultural variation

Cultural variation can act to obscure genetic differences - or to magnify them.

On the left we see culture amplifying genetic differences - while on the right is an example of culture obscuring them.

There's a strong theoretical reason to expect cultural differences to be correlated with genetic differences: since both are correlated with distance between the populations being compared. Of course, in the modern world, egalitarian memes do their best to reverse this effect.

Probably cultural variation within groups is minimised by transmission processes and pro-egalitarian memes. However on larger scales, drift probably dominated over most of the course of human evolution. In this case, cultural variation seems likely to have acted as a significant divisive force between humans from different tribes. The effects of cultural variation can be large. Cultural differences may well represent a more powerful stimulus to kin recognition mechanisms than genetic variation does.

The divisive influence of cultural variation may go some way to explaining the human tendency towards xenophobia. Cultural variation may be acting as a superstimulus to kin-recognition mechanisms, causing strangers to appear especially alien.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Wanted: everyday examples of natural elimination

Elimination, as part of Universal Darwinism represents a ubiquitous collection of processes.

I've been looking for familiar and "everyday" examples of elimination - for my next book. I want to show how processes involving cumulative elimination which apply to inanimate objects - as well as to biological entities. Here are some of the examples I have come up with so far:

  • Fridges gradually fill up with useless, rarely-eaten foodstuffs;
  • Wallets gradually fill up with low-denomination coins.

These are useful and good examples. However, both illustrate elimination gradually making the situation worse via the removal of desirable items. I've got one 'everyday' example of elimination gradually making the situation better via the removal of dud or broken items. Here it is:

  • Glasses in a drinks cabinet are not chipped or cracked - since any such glasses get trashed.

Can readers think of any better familar examples of elimination in action?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Marion Blute: Discussion of sociocultural evolution

Marion Blute discusses the current state of social and cultural evolution.

The Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab has a YouTube channel is here.

This video is from the 2013 Summer Interviews on Evolution playlist - from the 2013 International Summer School on Evolution.